Have you been through a pet emergency? Two years ago this week we had one. Before that our pet care had been strictly routine. Cleo had a root canal early into her life with us, but that was scheduled.
Here's a glimpse into how my brain tried to help me cope. Remember the Seinfeld episode, where Kramer's apartment has the entire Merv Griffin Show set? Jim Fowler (Sunday night Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingom) is there and George brings a recovering squirrel to the set, in a Baby Bjorn? The recuperating squirrel George is carrying just had an operation, done with teeny tiny instruments that George had to pay for in order to prove to his girlfriend he didn't hate animals.
Clearly I watch too many Seinfeld reruns but this episode and its references to television shows from my childhood, seemed to help me not completely freak out. Random scenes seemed to counterbalance my feelings of panic as I stood in a parking lot using Google's search function on my iPhone.
I needed to find a 24-Hour Animal Hospital, on Columbus Day holiday weekend, that could see Cleo immediately, had animal dentistry equipment and staff to operate it.
Beach romp. We had taken Cleo to the beach that Sunday two years ago. The weather was perfect for a romp in the water and our niece was visiting. It wasn't two minutes into our arrival onto the sand that Cleo ran right up to a wet departing Lab, carrying a large chunk of wood in his mouth. Within seconds they tussled, separated, and the Lab still with his wood and his owner finished walking to their car. Cleo however turned towards us looking dazed, like her bell had been rung.
We caught up with her as she slowly walked toward the surf. Having learned from rough play at the dog park, where Cleo sheared off half of her lower canine on another dog's metal collar, I needed to make sure nothing serious had happened. In an instant my heart stopped. Cleo's muzzle had foamy blood on it and bloody bubbles coming out of it.
This is where I lose it. We guided Cleo back to the car. She sat in the back with my niece and true to form, Cleo sat like a queen, a slightly rattled queen. No wimper, nothing. My adrenaline hit and I directed my husband to an animal clinic we had passed on our way to the beach. I had made a mental note before that they posted emergency information outside.
Animal dentistry. The technicians at the animal hospital could only give Cleo a shot for pain and infection. My commitment to this dog had me dialing every search result faster than you can say "who wants a treat?" I can't remember anymore how many numbers I called or what combinations of "dog", "canine", "dentist" I went through before hitting the jackpot.
Fear drives. I was afraid that by the time we got to the new vet they would tell us Cleo had to be put down. Who knows if it was that bad but seeing her upper canine tooth, perpendicular to her mouth, made my imagination ride wild.
Pets Unlimited is one of three 24-hour animal hospitals in San Francisco. They had animal dentistry equipment, staff ready to work on Cleo and they were thirty minutes away.
Our entire experience at this veterinary hospital and adoption center was overwhelmingly impressive. They were able to repair Cleo's jaw, though she lost the canine tooth. I learned that dogs have an extraordinarily long root for this tooth, compared to humans, which is why the tooth wasn't yanked out when it got caught in the wood.
Responsible pet ownership. This experience taught me to have multiple 24-hour animal hospitals programed into my phone, not just my vets number. As much as I would like to blame "the other guy", I'm glad the Lab's owner didn't break his stride to scold us or Cleo after the skirmish between the dogs. We should have kept Cleo on her leash until we had more clearance for greeting or avoiding other dogs on the beach. Her running up to the other dog, wasn't fair to the other dog. I own that bad behavior.
Today Cleo's beach romps are better orchestrated. We actively guide her and are better at looking for advance signs of inappropriate behavior. And her smile is as cute as ever, even with her missing teeth.